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The Day The Navy Retired The Skyraider Still Smarts Almost 50 Years Later

“Saga of the Skyraider” Tells The Story Of The Spad From Beginning To End

Official US Navy Photograph

The film “Saga of the Skyraider” was produced by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in 1969 to celebrate one of their most successful designs- the A-1 Skyraider. The film opens and concludes with footage shot during the Navy retirement ceremony for the Skyraider and subsequent fly-off of VA-25 Fist of the Fleet A-1H BuNo 135300 to the National Naval Aviation Museum. The retirement ceremony took place at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore in California during April of 1968. In between the retirement footage the film looks back at the development of the Skyraider and its 22 years of service with the United States Navy (USN).

135300 was accepted by the Navy in June of 1954 and flew its last combat mission after 14 years in Navy service from the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) in 1968. The mission was rescue combat air patrol (ResCAP) and close air support (CAS) of the besieged Marines at Khe Sanh. Lieutenant Junior Grade Theodore D. Hill Jr. flew that final mission and also flew 135300 to Pensacola and the museum, where it can still be viewed today. The Skyraider was replaced in Navy service by the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and the Vought A-7 Corsair II, although some would say the A-1 was never really replaced. Thanks to YouTuber sdasmarchives for uploading this Skyraider retrospective.

A-1H Skyraider 135300 depicted at the National Naval Aviation Museum. Photograph by the author.

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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